How I’ve Exercised–Safely–While Injured

I’ve become an expert at injured fitness. Ok, fine, that’s a lie. I’ve just learned what works for me as I’ve been healing from this stupid soccer injury. Yes, this is going to be a “Tips” post. Sorry to those of you who hate them; just leave now. 😉

1. I waited to be cleared by a doctor. I wasn’t given the go-ahead to head back to CrossFit until a week and a half after I broke my leg. They weren’t sure if I’d done serious damage to the ligaments in my ankle, and I had to get an MRI to make sure the tearing wasn’t too bad. That being said, ask your doctor what you can do if you’re serious about exercising during an injury. Don’t forget like I did during my first appointment. Mine told me I’d be fine to do upper body stuff and 1-legged cardio (like rowing) as long as I put NO weight on the broken leg (duh).

Torn ankle ligaments

And that was just the beginning of some awesome bruising.

2. I talked to my coaches/fitness instructors/trainers/gym people about what modifications I could do to help keep me moving. Exercise helps healing as long as you’re doing it within the boundaries of your injury. I did tons of push ups, shoulder presses, ring rows, etc. while never putting my broken leg at risk. My CrossFit coaches were patient and amazing at helping me come up with alternatives to the daily workout that worked with my broken leg.

Memorial Day CrossFit Murph

3. I piped up about what I couldn’t do. There were plenty of times that my coaches came up with an alternative to a move that just couldn’t work for where I was at the time. It’s your job to speak up about your capabilities and what’s holding you back. Other people will try to help, but they don’t know as well as you. I tried lots of awkward movements that eventually ended up being fine, but others I just didn’t have the mobility to do yet. Once, my coach suggested I try a lunge motion with my back leg on a bench. It would have been fine except I couldn’t flatten my ankle completely to get the move correct. He didn’t know that. He was just trying to give me something new to do. But rather than awkwardly try it and injure myself, we found something else I could do.

Working Out with Injuries

4. I tried new things. Before my injury, I was a fairly avid runner and soccer player. If I wanted to stay at least mildly fit during my injury (instead of sitting around to atrophy and turn into sugar slime), I knew I’d have to find alternatives to my normal routine. CrossFit really helped with that since it’s varied and there are so many movements that are compatible with a broken leg or can be modified for one leg. If you’re normally a runner but don’t have a CrossFit membership, try rowing at your gym or swimming. Both are excellent forms of cardio that challenge your body in different ways. If you have an upper body injury, try new lower body stuff and vice versa. Life is what you make it, and the same goes for injuries. Don’t make it an excuse to become a sugar slime. (That’s what I’d be anyway since I have such a sweet tooth.)

Crutching on the Beach with a Broken Leg

Anyone who’s been crutch-bound for a long time will know it’s an exercise unto itself.

5. I tried to make it fun. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve thrown a few pity parties about exercising with a broken leg (Carolyn–table of 1). There were workouts that were difficult enough that I started crying because I was getting so far behind even the slowest 2-legged person. (Word to the wise: Crying while working out is hard. It makes breathing difficult. Don’t do it. Just get over yourself.) No one expected me to be the fastest, but it was still a pride thing. Having friends to cheer you on helps. Know that people understand why you’re not at the top of your game right now, and no one expects you to be. They think you’re awesome just for getting out there. Take the good as it comes and ignore the bad. Laugh and make your physical activity fun. It’s not a race.

Splint Fashion

Zazz it up with fancy socks!

6. I didn’t try to break new records while injured. It’s hard to slow down or stop completely when you’ve been making new PRs and all that, but I had to realize that I’m just maintaining my current level of fitness and working on other areas (like a lot of upper body) while injured. I’m not going to lift more than I did before or get faster while not running. It was not easy to accept, but once you get over yourself, it’s really fine. Plus, you’ll get kudos for just showing up, and that’s slightly motivating in itself. 🙂

If you’ve been injured, how did you keep moving? What tips would you add?


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